Power Platform Developers who were using the Dynamics 365 Developer toolkit had issues connecting to online Dataverse instances after the regional discovery service was deprecated in June 2021. This toolkit was last updated in 2017 July and its source is not on GitHub. After the regional discover service deprecation this effectively stopped connecting to online instances, and no updates/fixes were published by SDK team. Dynamics 365 community member Mehdi El Amri (XrmTricks) had found a work around and details are on his blog post here. Since its not open source, community members cannot update the toolkit to work with the latest versions of the SDK.
Well, Power Platform SDK team at Microsoft has been busy and they have now published the preview version of the reborn developer toolkit with the name Power Platform Tools for Visual Studio.
I have installed and tested this toolkit and was able to connect to Dataverse, create solutions, plugins, workflows activities and deploy them with no issues. It is still in preview but seems to be working fine for all the features I tested so far. I renamed the VSIX file as zip and checked and compared the file and folder structures of this new toolkit with the old version, most of the structure is same and there are some changes and improvement to work with latest versions of the Dataverse and SDK. So in my view, the old developer toolkit has been reborn with a new name and obviously with some improvement and support for latest version of the SDK.
Its got the exact number and types of templates as the old developer toolkit, they have just been renamed as Power Platform templates
Is it backward compatible?
The preview version is not fully backward compatible and the official documentation states its not backward compatible however, based on the testing I have done so far the Package project seems to be backward compatible and it does not recognise the workflow or plugin projects (Project type GUIDS are different) if you open a solution based on old toolkit in the new extension. The screenshot below is taken when I click on Deploy from package project for a solution based on old toolkit, it only recognises items within the Package project not from the workflow or plugins. We might be able to update the project type GUID for Workflow and Plugins and then if we click Deploy, it may recognise plugins/workflow project types but I have not tried that yet and I will update this post if and when I test this scenario.
Please note you will not see the new templates shown in the screenshot above and you will not be able to create solution or project using them if you have the old developer toolkit installed for the same Visual Studio version. You have to uninstall the old developer toolkit extension to be able to see the new templates. I hope the SDK team will look into and improve so that we can have both toolkits installed side by side.
Because I am working with many projects that are based on old developer toolkit, I have VS 2015 and 2019 in one setup where 2015 has the old developer toolkit installed and 2019 has the latest Power Platform Tools extension installed. I have also tested another scenario where VS 2019 Enterprise and Pro versions installed and installed the new toolkit on Enterprise version and old on Pro and that combination seems to work fine as well.
Screenshots from the toolkit – old UI elements have been renamed
Note : I will be updating this post as and when I do more testing